Over the past decade, the Syrian capital of Damascus has been at the heart of one of the most complex and deadly conflicts of modern times, a devastating proxy war involving many global powers that has left more than a half million people dead and nearly 13 million people displaced from their homes.
The focus on Damascus has raised the global awareness of the metro area that at its peak had more than 2.7 million people and is widely believed to be the oldest continuously inhabited city in the world, with metropolitan communities for at least 4,000 years, following existence as a small village for thousands of years prior.
DAMASCUS: SITE OF ONE OF THE WORLD’S FIRST NAMED URBAN STREETS
One of the first street names known in world history is Straight Street (shown at left), the main thoroughfare through Damascus designed when the city was under Greek control about 100 years before Christ. This nearly mile-long urban street is best known for being the location of a home that Saul of Tarsus (later the Apostle Paul) stayed in after having a supernatural experience en route to the Syrian capital.
Today, Straight Street is known as Midhat Pasha Street on its east half and Bab Sharqi Street on its west. It’s just one example of the contributions that Damascus has made to global urban society.
Damascus is a part of the Christian, Jewish and Muslim traditions, as well as secular global history.
Residents and visitors to Southern California can enjoy authentic Damascene cuisine at the most unlikely place: a small takeout-only eatery in the middle of a moldering residential neighborhood in the San Bernardino County foothill town of Yucaipa. This unique culinary option is available thanks to Damascus transplants Basel Rezek and his uncle, Josh Tandor.
Damasco Mediterranean Cuisine at 35045 Avenue D is open Tuesday through Sunday from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. and offers delicious chicken and lamb kabobs, lamb chop, falafel wrap, mixed pickle and grape leaves, and other Mediterranean diet staples.
Unique Syrian accompaniments include the Aleppo peppers (named after Syria’s second largest city).
The simple establishment but delicious cuisine is no doubt in the tradition of the street vendors that Damascus is famous for.
In this challenging time for all small businesses, enjoying a meal from Damasco Mediterranean Cuisine – perhaps combined with a day trip to nearby Oak Glen or travels further east to Palm Springs – is a great way to explore a more positive side to a nation that has become one of the world’s trouble spots and expand your culinary knowledge and expertise at the same time.